Lady Pios fall short in 3A title game

From Staff Reports

KENNER – Like most of the Notre Dame coaches and players, Pioneers’ Coach Tara Young kept on waiting on her team to make one of its patented runs to defeat Ursuline for the Division III state championship on Saturday.

Young would see glimpses of the championship form Notre Dame showed this season against Ursuline, but the big run never happened.

Facing an Ursuline team determined to win a state championship for its fallen coach, Notre Dame lost 25-23, 25-21, 24-26, 27-25 at the Pontchartrain Center.

“I said to the girls we’re champions, but without the first-place trophy,” Young said.

Notre Dame hitters Kylie Pannell and Mayme Cook combined for 37 kills. Pannell had a team-high 20 kills.

But Ursuline came up with the key points when it mattered. The Lions won the title for former coach Marta Bott, who passed away from breast cancer last December.

Ursuline Coach Jay Jay Juan, who replaced Bott this season, said he was proud of his players.

“It is an honor and privilege to coach these girls,” Juan said.

Top-seeded Notre Dame didn’t go down without a fight.

Ursuline led 24-23 in the third game with senior Lily Mejia serving for the match. But Notre Dame players dug out three hard kill attempts by the Lions before Liann McCarthy missed long on a kill attempt to tie the score at 24. Notre Dame’s Mayme Cook had a touch shot drop to give the Pioneers a 25-24 lead. Notre Dame’s Alex Boulet served for an ace to close out the third game.

“It wasn’t until the third game that we decided to pick up the momentum,” Young said.

Ursuline came back more determined in the fourth game. McCarthy had a smash down the middle of the court to give the Lions a 15-9 lead. Jeannette Rimmer hit a shot off of a Notre Dame defense to make the score 21-15.

But Notre Dame won six consecutive points to tie the score at 21. Ursuline had another match point with a 24-23 lead, but the Pioneers tied the score at 24 when the Lions Courtney Ancar hit a shot into the net. Notre Dame took a 25-24 lead when Ursuline lost a point for four hits.

But McCarthy tied the score at 25 with a kill off of a Notre Dame defender.

“There was only one person getting the ball, and that was Liann McCarthy,” Juan said.

And when Notre Dame lost the last point of the match for four hits, the happy Ursuline players rushed the court in a massive celebration.

“I thought we had won the fourth game, and we were going for five,” Young said. “The ball just didn’t fall our way tonight.”

Ursuline set the tone for the match early. The Lions built leads of 12-8 and 21-16 in the first game. Notre Dame cut the cut to 23-22, but Uruline closed out the game on a cross-court kill by Courtney Deidrich.

Notre Dame led 9-4 in the second game, but Ursuline came back with an 8-2 run to take a 12-11 lead. The score was tied at 13, 14 and 15. Then Urusline won the game with a 10-6 spurt that ended on a missed kill attempt by Kylie Pannell, who had a team-high 20 kills.

“I don’t think we played our best,” Young said. “We had missed opportunities.”

But with the chance to honor their former coach, Ursuline didn’t miss this opportunity to win a state championship for Coach Bott.

“The person who personified what Ursuline was about was Marta Bott,” Juan said.

Members of the Notre Dame varsity squad include Taylor Simon, Mallory Chiasson, Alex Boulet, Taylor Boulet, Lexi Trosclair, Marie Ledet, Alaina Savoy, Samantha Spallino, Kyla LeBlanc, Allison Leonards, Mayme Cook, Kylie Pannell, Caroline Stewart and Hannah Godeaux. Coaches for the Lady Pios are head coach Tara Young and assistants Brad Petry and Lauren Delahoussaye.

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